This map is designed to provide a geographical sense of ONDA's program areas, highlighting key places we are working to protect, defend and restore, and to assist you in your explorations of Oregon's beautiful high desert. Have fun out there, and please don't hesitate to contact us with any questions you may have.
- Owyhee Breaks WSA
This Wilderness Study Area consists of rugged, dissected badlands along the Owyhee River. Cliffs, steep bluffs, twisting gulches, dramatic erosional features, sharp ridgelines, and a deep river canyon are characteristic features of the landscape and are of great geologic interest.
The Owyhee Breaks WSA provides excellent opportunities for hiking, backpacking, camping, wildlife viewing, and photography. Fishing and float boating are also popular activities on the river. The complex pattern of rugged topography provides an area of geologic interest and spectacular scenic quality.
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- Jordan Craters WSA
This WSA an excellent example of a relatively recent basalt lava flow. The surface is mostly bare, exposed basalt and is covered in innumerable domes, cracks and sinks. Pools of water have formed in some depressions where the lava flows dip below the water table. The largest of these depressions is called Batch Lake.
The eastern three quarters of the WSA are excellent areas for spelunking. The WSA also offers exceptional sightseeing of the botanic, geologic, and ecologic features throughout the lava field area. There are also excellent bird watching activities near Batch Lake.
Over 300 species of wildlife have been found in the WSA including mule deer and pronghorn antelope. Eight species of bats have been found, including Townsend's big-eared bat. The most diversity of wildlife can be seen at Batch Lake and Crater Lake where beaver, otter, and muskrat can be seen. Over 200 species of birds use the open water areas in Jordan Craters.
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- Oregon Badlands Wilderness
The Oregon Badlands Wilderness is located approximately 15 miles east of Bend on Highway 20. It contains ancient junipers, Native American rock art, and hundreds of species of birds and other wildlife.
Located just 15 miles east of Bend, the Badlands is a 30,000 acre area containing fascinating lava flows and ancient junipers. This area was named for its harsh terrain and fantastic rock formations. Within this landscape, one can find incredible displays of desert wildflowers, dry river canyons, castle-like rock formations, and Native American pictographs.
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- Whychus-Deschutes Confluence
At the bottom of a spectacular canyon, Whychus Creek and the Middle Deschutes River come together.
The confluence of Whychus Creek with the Middle Deschutes River has long been recognized as one of the most special places in Central Oregon. The canyon walls display the varied and fascinating geological history of our region, and the many archeological sites offer a glimpse into the lives of those who first explored these canyons thousands of years ago. The Whychus-Deschutes landscape is home to many sensitive desert species, but it provides especially crucial habitat for native fish, such as bull trout.
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- Upper West Little Owyhee WSA
A true wilderness experience, exploring the many canyons of the Upper West Little Owyhee WSA is like traveling back in time. Canyons in the area include West Little Owyhee Canyon, Antelope Canyon, and Louse Canyon, which contains many vertical cliffs and rock outcroppings that rise several hundred feet above the river. The West Little Owyhee River, designated a Wild and Scenic River, flows east through the WSA for 18 miles.
There is an abundance of wildlife that call the Upper West Little Owyhee WSA home. The canyons provide ample nesting sites for golden eagles, prairie falcons, kestrels, and red-tailed hawks. The deep pools that form in the canyons during summer months support rainbow trout, redside shiners, bridge lip suckers, and speckled dace. The WSA also contains the largest populations of sage grouse (a candidate for listing under the Endangered Species Act), pronghorn, and white-tailed jackrabbits in Malheur County.
For more information on the Upper West Little Owyhee WSA and the greater Owyhee Canyonlands region, please CLICK HERE.
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- Alvord Desert
The Alvord Desert is a dry lake bed east of Steens Mountain.
In the rain shadow of Steens Mountain, the Alvord Desert receives about 7 inches of rainfall per year, but the views here are anything but sparse. With Steens mountain towering to the west, and the Pueblo Mountains to the east, the dry lake bed of the Alvord Desert still feels like an endless expanse. Underground geothermal activity makes up for the otherwise serene landscape, with hot springs such as Borax Lake, Alvord Hot Springs and Mickey Hot Springs bubbling up from the desert floor along the 25-mile Alvord Fault.
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- Steelhead Falls
Steelhead Falls is a waterfall on the Middle Deschutes River, named for the native fish that historically struggled to surmount the falls in their journey upstream to spawn.
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- South Fork of the Crooked River
Winding its way though a deep basalt canyon, the South Fork of the Crooked River provides habitat for rainbow trout, beaver, bobcats and many species of birds.
The South Fork of the Crooked River is temporarily protected as a Wilderness Study Area. To learn more about the South Fork and the surrounding landscape, please visit our Hidden Springs Wilderness Proposal page.
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- Alder Springs
Tucked into a pristine draw above Whychus Creek, Alder Springs gushes out of the desert floor, creating a thriving habitat for mule deer, cougar, native trout, and many species of songbirds.
Alder Springs can be reached by foot on a steep 1.5 mile trail. Once you reach the springs, you have the option to ford Whychus Creek and continue hiking along the creek for another two miles to its confluence with the mighty Deschutes River.
For more information about visiting Alder Springs, check out our Whychus-Deschutes Area Guide.
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- Cathedral Rock
The 8,015 acre proposed Cathedral Rock Wilderness Area would be created through the consolidation of private land along the John Day River. This proposal will double opportunities to access public lands that were previously locked away in a checkerboard land pattern with private, and will bring four new miles of Wild and Scenic River into public ownership.
The Cathedral Rock and Horse Heaven Proposed Wilderness areas are a stronghold for biological diversity, containing key habitat for mid-Columbia summer steelhead, pygmy rabbit, Ferruginous Hawk, and important wintering habitat for deer, elk, and antelope.
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- Steens Mountain
Steens mountain, located in Harney County, Oregon, towers over the Alvord Desert and provides habitat for pronghorn antelope, golden eagles and many other sensitive species.
Visible throughout Southeastern Oregon, Steens Mountain is the crown jewel of Oregon’s High Desert. The largest fault-block mountain in the northern Great Basin, Steens Mountain soars a vertical mile above the adjacent Alvord Desert. Glaciers have carved steep valleys down its slopes, and the summit of Steens offers unparalleled views of the surrounding desert and mountain ranges.
For more information on Steens Mountain, please CLICK HERE
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- Hart Mountain
Hart Mountain is a fault block mountain in Lake County, Oregon and is a part of the Hart Mountain National Antelope Refuge.
Hart Mountain is a fault block mountain that rises 8000 feet above the surrounding desert. The summit of the mountain and the surrounding high desert is part of the Hart Mountain National Antelope Refuge, which together with the Sheldon National Wildlife Refuge in Nevada, provides habitat for sensitive species such as sage grouse and pronghorn antelope.
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- Lower John Day River
Information on the John Day River Wilderness
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- Owyhee Wild and Scenic River
There are plentiful primitive recreation opportunities in the Owyhee River Canyon. The scenic natural features and diversity of rugged landforms attract people interested in hunting, backpacking, and river running, as well as sight-seeing, photography, wildlife viewing, botanical studies, and fishing.
River running opportunities on the Owyhee Wild and Scenic River are of exceptionally high quality and considered nationally significant. There are no established trails in the rugged canyons, thereby heightening the primitive experience while providing a natural and arduous recreational challenge.
For more information about the Owyhee Wild and Scenic River and the greater Owyhee Canyonlands region, please CLICK HERE
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- Spring Basin Wilderness
Spring Basin Wilderness Area is a tapestry of rolling hills, providing spectacular vistas of the John Day River and surrounding landscape. Located just south of state highway 218 near Clarno, Oregon, this unique wild area offers a profusion of desert wildflowers in the spring, along with recreational opportunities for hikers, horseback riders, hunters, botanists, and other outdoor enthusiasts.
Local landowners, the Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs and ONDA worked together to improve access to public lands and bring Wilderness protections to Spring Basin. Bolstered by widespread local support for the initiative, on March 30th, 2009, Congress passed a bill granting 10,000 acres of public lands Spring Basin permanent protection as Wilderness.
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- Horse Heaven
The 8500 acre proposed Horse Heaven Wilderness Area would be created through a land exchange between private landowners and the Bureau of Land Management. The area boasts outstanding opportunities for backcountry hunting and other primitive recreation.
For more information about Horse Heaven, please visit our John Day River page.
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